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Part I – Kenzie’s Story
Cursing and crying, I entered the last few digits of the number into my disposable cell phone and hit Send. I hoped she was home. If she wasn’t, I was going to fall apart.
“Hello?” the voice began.
“Danni? It’s me Kenzie,” I said with forced cheerfulness.
Danni had been my best friend in high school. We had been inseparable from the time we met in fifth grade. Fate had thrown us together for “the talk” at school. Her wry sense of humor, and visible disdain for the discomfort of our teachers had made her my idol. We’d been constant companions until I’d moved to Seattle half-way through my senior year. We’d stayed in touch a few months after I moved, but gradually, the calls became less frequent and we’d lost touch with each other.
“Kenzie, how are ya? Long time no hear girl! What’s going on?” she said excitedly.
Good. Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard.
“Danni, listen. I’m in trouble and I need a place to stay. Can I stay with you for a couple of weeks? I wouldn’t ask, but I’m really desperate. Please, can I stay? It’s just for a couple of weeks.”
“What’s going on?” she asked.
“It’s complicated Danni. I just need someplace to lay low for a while. Two weeks, tops.”
“Two weeks? You can stay two months if you want. Works for me. When are you going to be in town?”
“I’m in town now. Can I come over in a few minutes? Please?”
“Sure, sure. I just thought I’d have time to make things nicer for you,” she said flustered.
“It’s OK. Really, I don’t want to be any trouble. Would half an hour be OK?”
“OK, I’ll see you in 30 minutes, here’s the address.” She repeated it back to me. “Kenzie?”
“Yes Danni?” I whispered.
“I’m glad you’re here. See you in a few.”
Looking down at the floor of the car, I contemplated life’s big surprise: my daughter Elise. She was a beautiful, two-week-old, little girl. She was probably the only good thing that her scummy father had ever done. I wondered if a lifetime of cruelty and abusive behavior could be offset by fathering one perfect, beautiful child. I didn’t think so.
I wasn’t sure how Danni was going to react to Elise. I guess that’s why I didn’t mention her. I felt like shit for tricking my best friend, but I really was desperate.
I drove the car to a street about a block from Danni’s apartment. Parking in a secluded place, I started wiping it down. I carefully went over the entire interior, remembering to wipe off the rear-view mirror and the seat belt blades. Getting out, I wiped off the door handles, the door frame, and the top of the trunk. When the police found this baby a thousand miles from home I didn’t want any prints to lead them to me.
Picking up the car seat with Elise in it, I hoisted her diaper bag and my backpack over my shoulder and started casually walking away from the car. As I rounded the corner, and walked into Danni’s apartment complex, I breathed a sigh of relief. I wasn’t sure about the next part, but I’d gotten rid of the stolen car, and that was just a huge load off me.
I walked through the maze of buildings until I found the right one. Setting Elise’s car seat down on the ground, I rang the door bell. Seconds later, the door flew open and she was there.
“Hey girl!” she said excitedly. “Look at you! I’m so glad to see you!” she squealed. Stepping forward, she grabbed me in a strong hug and started crushing me.
Danni had changed since school. Her build was better than I’d remembered. She had a long lean torso topped with a pair of pert breasts. Her brown hair was in a short buzz cut that was boyish, but when combined with her face still left her with a feminine appearance. She was a little heavy in the hardware department with a piercing in her eyebrow and a row of studs piercing one ear. For clothes she had on a pair of faded black jeans, and a battered Joan Jett T-shirt.
Stepping back, she started looking me over.
“Whoa girl! Look at that chest! When did those happen?”
“Those happened about 4 months ago,” I grinned. “It’s what pregnancy and nursing do.”
“No Shit? You had a baby?”
Nodding, I stepped to the side and revealed a sleeping Elise.
“Wow,” she said softly. Kneeling down, she took a close look at her.
“She’s beautiful,” she whispered. “Tell me about her.”
“Can we go inside?” I asked. “It’s been a long day, and I’m kind of tired.”
“Oh! Sure! My bad. Let me help you.” Reaching down, she picked up the diaper bag, and my backpack. I picked up Elise and we moved into her living room.
Danni’s apartment was a study in utilitarian minimalism. A small table had two chairs. Open style cabinets revealed a plain stoneware set for four. The living room had a worn couch, and a beat up recliner. On the wall was a vague rainbow poster.
Danni collapsed into the recliner and I sat heavily on the couch. Seeing her again brought back a flood of emotions. I guess she was feeling the same way. We sat looking at each other, I casino siteleri suppose lost in our own thoughts, wondering I suppose what the hell fate was doing bringing us back together.
Finally, she got up. “Would you like something to drink? I’ve got beer and wine.”
“A cup of tea would be nice if you have it. I’m nursing, and I can’t really drink. If you don’t have any tea, some water would be fine.”
“Let me look. My mom gave me some tea as part of a house-warming basket when I moved in here. I’m pretty sure I didn’t drink it all.”
A minute later, she gave a triumphant shout and held up the tin of bags, complete with the original cellophane wrapping intact.
“I see you didn’t drink it all,” I smirked.
“Wise-ass!” she grinned.
Soon, I was holding a steaming cup of tea. As I sipped from the mug, I felt her appraising gaze looking me over. Somehow, I knew she wasn’t looking at my maternally enhanced boobs.
“So, are you going to tell me what’s going on?”
Taking a deep breath, I started in on the whole sad, stupid story.
“After we moved to Seattle, things pretty much sucked. My folks divorced, and my mother went through a string of boyfriends. I was a little freaked out at the way some of them were looking at me I guess. I was seventeen, and these losers were dropping hints and looking me over any time my mom wasn’t around. At the same time, my mom started drinking pretty heavily. While this was going on, I started hanging out with kids that weren’t exactly civic leaders. Considering some of the crap I did, it’s a wonder I was never arrested. I knew I had to get out of there, so I made a plan.”
“As soon as I finished school, I went to beautician school, and started cutting hair. Once I had a steady job, I moved out. I spent the next couple of years cutting hair. Not a lot to tell there. I got up and worked weekdays. Weekends, the other girls from work and I went out to bars looking for men. Almost always, I was too picky to take any of them home. With one exception anyhow.”
Taking a break I took another sip from my cup. It was chamomile. When I’d been a little girl, my mother and I used to drink chamomile tea together on rainy days. I missed my mother. No, that was a lie. I missed the woman my mother used to be. Maybe I missed the little girl I used to be.
“So, I met Kurt. Kurt’s an investment advisor for a bank. When I met him, I was just floored. Here’s this 30 year old guy, who’s just totally handsome and well dressed. I mean he’s wearing Giorgio fucking Armani suits. Not only was he good looking, but he had money. He drove a BMW, and his condo had been professionally decorated by someone with taste.”
“In hindsight, I should have asked myself why this perfect specimen of manhood was trolling bars and picking up hair dressers. I didn’t use my fucking head is the nicest thing I could say,” I said wryly.
Stopping again, I took a deep pull from my tea and plodded onwards and downwards through my life.
“After a couple of dates, I started sleeping with him, and in another couple of months, I moved into his apartment with him. He was just totally amazing. He was so attentive. He was always doing little things that made me feel like a princess. I was in heaven. It was just so wonderful.”
“After I moved in though, things started changing. He wasn’t quite as attentive. Some days, he was a little short with me. At first, I thought it was just normal stuff. I never dated much, but I know that every relationship changes as it develops. It was around this time, that I got pregnant.”
“Kurt was just totally furious. He kept asking how anyone could be so damn dumb. Birth control was my one responsibility in our relationship and I’d fucked it up. That night was the beginning of scary times, and for the first time I slept on the couch in the living room.”
“The next day, he was all apologetic. He bought me flowers, and we went to dinner at an expensive restaurant. During dinner, we started talking about marriage.”
“Over the next couple of weeks, Kurt convinced me to quit my job. After all, as he pointed out, we were getting married and his income was enough for us to live comfortably on. After I quit my job, Kurt started pressuring me to stay home, and stop meeting my girl friends from the salon.”
“Looking back, it’s pretty easy to see that he was isolating me. He was making my life totally revolve around him, and making sure that I had no regular contact with anyone else. I don’t know why I didn’t see it at the time. Right about then is when we got married. We just went down to the courthouse and had a civil ceremony. His parents sent a congratulations card. When I saw the zip code was for the next township over, I asked Kurt.”
“My mother is a god-damned drunk and my father’s a loser who stays with a drunk. You don’t want to know them,” was his response.
“I was floored. I mean shit, my mother’s a drunk, but I don’t feel that way about her,” I said indignantly.
Glancing slot oyna down at the empty cup, I looked at Danni. Her face had gone stony and I could see a nervous tic in her left eyebrow. When we were kids, I could always beat her at poker. Any time she starts to get stressed her eye starts twitching.
“I’ll take that glass of wine now.” I grinned, holding the empty cup out.
“Geez, sorry. I was wrong. I’m outta wine” she said, her lips pursed together.
“OK, I didn’t really need it. So, where was I. Oh, yeah, isolation.”
“Once he had me isolated, shit got worse. Way worse. Verbal abuse was just openers. When I was about 8 months pregnant, I let my mouth get away from me, and he beat me. Danni, he beat me bad. I had to go to the emergency room. I had a cracked rib, a black eye, and a split lip. I’ve spent the last two months, doing everything I can to make things perfect so he wouldn’t have reason to hit me again. It’s been hard. He’s like a balloon. You can see the pressure building up, and you think he’s going to burst. Then for some reason, the pressure goes down and he’s all right for a few weeks.”
“While I was waiting for Elise to be born, I started getting things ready. We had a safe in our condo. Kurt never told me where the key was, but I figured it out. I had a lot of time on my hands, and besides, it didn’t take a genius to notice that any time he’d been in the safe he smelled like foot powder. I knew we had money in the safe. When I found the key, I made a duplicate, and took inventory. The safe had a fair amount of cash in it. There was also some women’s jewelry, and a couple of driver’s licenses for women I’d never met. I guess they were old girl friends. Anyhow, a couple of days ago, I borrowed a car from a friend, cleaned the cash out of the safe, and drove here.”
By now, Danni’s eyes were wide open. She looked totally freaked. Her eye was twitching insanely.
“Tell me you didn’t use credit cards for gas. Tell me you didn’t use credit cards for anything,” she demanded roughly.
“No, I didn’t want him following. I used the cash for everything.”
“Think carefully. Think very fucking carefully,” she said grimly. “Did you ever mention me to him? Do you think he’ll guess you came here?”
“Danni, you’re scaring me! I don’t think I ever mentioned your name. You don’t think he’ll track me down do you?” I said, sounding scared.
“No, I think you’ve been careful enough. There’s nothing to really worry about,” she muttered. I noticed her posture seemed more relaxed, and she was leaning back in the chair. Her eye was still twitching.
“What about the friend you borrowed the car from. Can you be traced that way?” she growled.
“No, there’s nothing to worry about there. I’ve already set it up so the car will be returned.”
From the floor, where I’d set Elise down, I started to hear some stirring. I knew she was going to be awake soon, and need fed. Danni showed me to the spare bedroom where I’d be staying. It was her office, and the bed was a day bed stuffed against the wall. I didn’t care. After 24 hours of driving, it looked heavenly. In a haze, I fed Elise, and changed her and then showered and collapsed in the bed. The last thing I remember was Danni kissing me good night.
I remember waking up once more during the night, and nursing Elise, but other than that I slept like the dead until the sun was well into the sky.
When I got up, I found a note from Danni.
I’m at work now. I’ve got my cell with me. It’s the same # you called last night. Call me if you need anything. If Kurt shows up, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR! CALL 911! I mean it! Don’t open the door no matter what. I should be home around 5:30 PM. Love ya!
While Danni was working, I took the bus downtown, and found a consignment shop. I bought a portable crib, and a stroller. Next, I found the grocery store and got some diapers and things for making dinner. I was hungry for pot roast with potatoes and carrots. During my months of pregnancy and isolation, I’d really gotten into cooking. It gave me something to do, and Kurt had been pleased by it. I’m no chef, but I had built a repertoire of meals that I knew were better than OK.
When Danni got home, I knew she was pleased. I could see the look of delight in her eyes when she walked in and smelled the food cooking.
“Hey Babe! Oooh, that smells delicious. What are you making? Mmmm, pot roast. How was your day?” she said. Walking up to the fridge, she took out a beer and cracked it open. I filled her in on my activities and then she went to shower.
During dinner, we talked about what she had been doing since high school.
“I’ve been working as an EMT and going to school part time for an Associate’s in Criminal Justice. When I get it, I’m going to apply to the city and be a cop,” she said. “I get my degree in January, and then I’ll submit the application. I’ve got some cop buddies I’ve met on runs, and they think I’m a natural. They say I’ll canlı casino siteleri be accepted immediately.”
“Whoa, I’m impressed. I didn’t know you were into that stuff”.
“I know it sounds corny, but I like helping people. There are a lot of bad guys out there, and I want to keep them from doing bad things to good people,” she said embarrassed.
“So, how’s your love life? Dating anyone?” This was a loaded question. I was 99% certain Danni was gay, but I wasn’t sure. Throw it out and see what happens I guess.
“I dated a couple of women since you left, but I guess my heart hasn’t been in it. I’m too career focused at the moment,” she smiled.
“Women?” I queried.
“Yeah kid, women. Girls anyhow. I’m not sure any of them were mature enough to qualify as women. You knew I was gay didn’t you?”
“I suppose I did. I just was never certain.”
“Well, I wasn’t certain myself until after you moved away. It’s not a problem for you to stay here is it?”
“No, no. It’s not a problem. I’m just so grateful to you for letting me stay. I don’t know where I would have gone if you weren’t helping me. Thank you,” I said softly.
“You’re welcome. Thanks for making dinner. It was really good. I don’t know the last time I had a home cooked meal. It’s usually noodle cups, or take out Chinese for me. Here, let me get started on the dishes.”
“Really it’s OK, I’ll do them!” I said.
“No, it’s only fair if you cook, I’ll do dishes. Tell you what, if I cook, you can do the dishes. How’s that?”
“I suppose that’s fair.”
While she cleaned the kitchen, we talked about Elise. She was curious to know what I thought about motherhood.
“Mostly, I feel like a milk cow,” I moaned. “I have to feed her every few hours. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the bonding and the closeness we’re developing. I just wish sometimes I could get a full night’s sleep.”
Almost as if on cue, I heard Elise waking up. After changing her, I sat on the couch and started nursing her. I guess I didn’t think about Danni being present; my nursing coach had been a woman. As Danni moved around the kitchen, I caught her making sideways glances in my direction. It wasn’t until I was in the middle of the feeding that I realized that Danni might be checking me out. Oh well, I thought, she’s been so good to take me in. It won’t hurt to put on a little show. I was also more than a little curious of what her opinion would be. After swelling to what felt like the size of a blimp, I was anxious to know someone thought I was sexy.
When Elise finished my left breast, I left it exposed to air dry while she nursed from the right. Danni’s eye wasn’t twitching, but I could see her struggling to not just stare. Maybe I was being mean, but it was kind of fun to tease her.
While I was feeding Elise, I sang to her. Sometimes I sang children’s songs, and sometimes I just made up silly things or held a one-sided conversation.
Danni came out and sat across from me watching. Eventually, Elise fell asleep again, and we started talking again.
“So, what are your plans?” she asked.
“I’m going to find a divorce attorney next week, and start that process. After I get that going, I suppose I’m going to try to find an apartment and then get a job cutting hair.”
“There’s not going to be a lot left of your paycheck after you pay for an apartment and child care,” she observed.
“I know. I’m hoping I can get some support money from Kurt. I’m just so scared of him that the thought of having anything to do with him terrifies me. If he’s paying child support or alimony he’s going to want something out of it, which means he’d be in my life still. That scares me,” I said softly.
“I think you need to stay here until your situation is totally sorted out,” she began. “I don’t care how long it takes. I think it’s a bad idea for you to be on your own until you’ve got the divorce finalized and can see how he’s going to react. Domestic violence doesn’t quit when a woman moves out, your odds of being hurt actually go up for the next two years. You REALLY should not be alone with him. I’ve got a really bad feeling about this guy. I know I haven’t met him, but from your description it sounds like he’s a lot more dangerous than you realize,” she said grimly. “I’m going to talk to some cop-buddies of mine and see what their opinions are. Always keep the door locked, and if he shows up, call 911. Promise me that you’ll do this Kenzie.”
“I promise Danni. If Kurt shows up, I’ll keep the door locked and call 911.”
That night, before bed, Danni came to say good night.
“Are you OK Kenzie?” she asked softly.
“I think so,” I said. “Thanks again for helping. It means a lot to me!”
“I’m sure you’re scared Kenzie, but things will be OK. I’m going to protect you, and I promise I’m not going to let anything happen to you or Elise.”
I gave her another hug in response and she went to her room.
The next morning, I was bored. Seeing a DVD player, I started opening drawers, looking for movies. Poking around, I hit Danni’s porn stash. The dominant theme seemed to be lesbian sex involving strap-ons. Out of curiosity, I picked the best looking of the bunch and put it in.
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